Gleaning

We work with farmers in Missouri and Kansas to glean their fields and orchards after the harvest, to gather up produce left behind by mechanical equipment and pickers. This fresh, locally grown food is delivered to food pantries and feeding agencies in close proximity to the farm where it is gleaned.

Already Picked and Packed

We also work with excess, graded out, or rejected produce that cannot be sold for market reasons. This food may come from commercial farms, produce packing companies, grocery stores, farmers’ markets and more. We work in Missouri and Kansas, and can locate nearby food banks that will take larger quantities, and food pantries and agencies that will take smaller quantities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The page provides answers to common questions that our volunteers and supporters have asked. If you don’t find what you are looking for please go to the CONTACT  page. Thank you for your support and involvement.

Contact Mariah Friend, Volunteer Coordinator, at 816-921-1903 or mariah@aftertheharvestkc.org.

What is gleaning?

Farmers often have produce leftover that they can’t sell and don’t wish to throw away or turn under, so instead of letting it go to waste, they donate it, with the help of After the Harvest, to feed hungry people. Gleaning is picking what’s left in farmers’ fields after the harvest and delivering it to food banks (like Harvesters), pantries, shelters and community kitchens.

What produce do you glean and when?

We pick apples, pears, beans, kale, tomatoes, berries, squash, corn and more from May-November, depending on the weather. If it grows in Kansas or Missouri, we probably glean it! All gleanings are headed by trained field supervisors. Our staff is small so it’s volunteers, like you, who rescue thousands of pounds of produce for those in need.

How do I find out about gleaning events?  

Sign up for e-mail gleaning alerts at the bottom of the ATH website home page or check out the volunteer calendar on the ATH website volunteer page.

How do I sign up to glean?  

Go the volunteer calendar. You’ll sign up as “Individuals and families” or “Organization”. If you have questions or just hate to sign up online, contact Mariah.

My organization wants to glean as a group.  How do we sign up?

Go to the volunteer calendar or contact Mariah. Note that we may be able to accommodate your group on a date and time not listed.

Only the leader should sign up. We’ll need to know your organization’s name and description, where you are traveling from to get to the gleaning, and the ages of your volunteers (how many projected 0-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19+ years?). If you’re projecting more volunteers than the indicated need, sign up anyway for the number we indicate, explain in comment box and we’ll be in touch.

Generally, one adult for every 10 children is required, but more may be required if participants include many very young children or other special situations.

What is a “produce gleaning”?   

If you see a gleaning event listing on the volunteer calendar that says “produce gleaning,” instead of, say, “apple gleaning”, that means we’ll be gleaning, but don’t yet know what will be ready to harvest on which farm. We’ll let you know via e-mail before your gleaning. Signing up for “produce gleanings” gives volunteers (especially groups) a longer time frame to plan.

What information do you need from me pre-gleaning?

Because we may need to contact you the day of the gleaning, when you sign up, give us your cell number if you have one. Make sure each person who’s gleaning completes a waiver form and brings it to the gleaning.

I don’t see the farm address listed.  What’s up?

Our Gleaning Network Manager, Emily, will e-mail you with the farm address, field supervisor contact info, produce to be gleaned and notice of delay or cancellation due to bad weather. We try to give you as much advance notice as possible, but because of the nature of farming, we will probably not be in contact until the week of your gleaning with specifics.

Why do you cancel gleanings?

We may cancel a gleaning due to wet field conditions, dangerous thunderstorms, or crop failures due to heat, drought, hail, frost or freezing temperatures. We ask every gleaner to check their

e-mail on the day of the gleaning to make sure it has not been cancelled.

If it’s raining the night before the gleaning, will the gleaning be cancelled?

Please check your e-mail. Often it may be raining at your house, but not at the farm!

What if we have volunteered to glean and then have to cancel?

We ask that, if possible, you give us at least two days notice so we can find replacements for you or your group.

Why do you sometimes post gleanings with only one or two day’s notice?  

Because of the nature of farming, the farmers often don’t give us more than a day or two notice.

Why don’t you glean in the afternoon or evening during the summer months?

It’s too hot for the volunteers and for the produce, too! In the fall and early spring, we have more leeway and can glean later in the day.

Can kids participate in gleanings?

Yes! We love kids to learn where their food comes from and to help others who are in need. There is no minimum age, but children need to be old enough to follow directions, not step on the crops, or wander off. We require close parental supervision for young children as well as waiver forms signed by parents/guardians for those under 18.  

What’s the best dress for gleaning?

In the summer, wear a hat, sunglasses, closed-toed old shoes and socks (sandals just don’t work in fields). Wear long, lightweight pants and a long-sleeved shirt—you’ll stay cooler if you’re covered. In the fall, it’s best to dress warmly in layers and wear gloves.  

What should I bring with me to the gleaning?

Bring your waiver form, water bottles, sunscreen, and, if you like, gardening gloves and a hat. Sorry, no pets allowed!

Any other preparations before getting to the gleaning?

If you wish, apply bug spray before you leave home. Most of our farms are organic, so you won’t be able to spray there. Please go to the bathroom and wash your hands before leaving home.  Using the field is never allowed, and only a few of the farms have public restrooms, so you’ll have to drive to the closest facility. No smoking is allowed in the fields; plan to smoke ahead of time or by your car.

Can we take home any of the produce that we pick?

If you are currently using a food pantry, you are welcome to take enough for one meal home with you. Otherwise, any produce not going to pantries should be purchased from the farmer.

Can I deliver the produce I gleaned to a local agency?

Yes. Volunteers tell us that delivering from the farm to a food bank, or other agency distributing food, is one of the best experiences of the day. We try to select a location near your route (or an agency of your preference), but if you can, please be open to areas of most need. When you sign up, tell us you can deliver. The primary way that produce gets from the farm to those in need is through volunteers like you (note: you don’t need a truck…car trunks hold a lot of produce!).    

What’s the VEG Squad?

Our quick response team, the Vegetable Emergency Glean Squad, comes together on short notice for weekday morning produce gleanings. They share rides, friendship, fresh morning air and exercise as they rescue nutritious produce for hungry families. Contact Mariah.

How do I become a field supervisor?

We’ll provide training in our office and give you all the materials you need. You’ll complete your training with an experienced field supervisor in the field, and then you’ll be ready to lead gleanings on your own! Contact Mariah.  

After the Harvest sends occasional email notices about upcoming events and activities, such as opportunities to glean at area farms. To sign up add your name and email list in the box below.